Eleanor & Park
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.
Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Eleanor & Park was the first book by Rainbow Rowell that I read. If you can't tell by the description it's a young adult book, and I think the description makes it sound super cheesy but fear not, it was awesome! Ok, I lied. I didn't read this one. I listened to the audiobook instead, which was incredible. It really gave the characters something more. It gave them a personality and a voice I could not have imagined, and I applaud the two people that they got to read this particular book. I think this is one of best contemporary books I've read. The whole love story between the two of them is totally believable. It doesn't feel forced or fake, and it doesn't get into that Nicholas Sparks type of romance that makes me cringe. It felt real, which is what I love about Rowell. She makes her characters feel real. If you can't relate to them you could probably think of someone that reminds you of them. And even if you can't think of someone like them, you can definitely see how they exist in the actual world. She includes a lot of pop culture references that make things much easier to place as well, which I love.
Now I realize there is a stigma about an adult reading young adult novels, but STOP THAT RIGHT NOW! This book is about so much that can be taken into adulthood. It's about overcoming your current situations and taking a stand for yourself. It's about trying to make a connection with someone else, whether it be just a friendship or not. Yes, the characters are 16. Yes, the characters go to high school. But we were all 16 once. We all went to high school once. The characters could easily be like people you went to high school with. They don't seem ridiculously fake at all. My only issues...the amount of f-bombs dropped. Seriously, learn a new word. But....that's entirely realistic. In today's culture...kids swear a lot. Kids swore a lot when I was in high school. It definitely makes everything more real, but you should not let that scare you away from the story. It's not even the main characters that swear so much, it's some of the secondary characters. And I think it's a reminder of what high school was like and is like today, and it's a reminder for adults to be good role models especially when language is concerned. This book was fabulous, but I think I need to gush more about my new favorite author.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Ok, it seems I read her first two YA novels right away, which is fine. Fangirl came out not that long ago, and was my second book by Rowell. The synopsis, yet again, makes it sound SO cheesy but I promise you it's not that bad. Basically Cath has been hiding in a series staring Simon Snow (I kind of looked at it like the Harry Potter books were to me). Life gets tough and that's where she hides. She gets lost in the world of fan fiction and those that follow her fan fiction. She then goes off to college, her twin sister doesn't want to hang out with her 24/7 like they did back home, and she's forced out of her comfort zone essentially and forced to live her own life. It's basically a book about trying to find yourself, as it seems is a common theme that Rowell writes about (though how many times are we trying to figure out what's next for us? I'm still trying to figure that out now), and trying to come out of your shell. The fan fiction part of the story kind of weirded me out. I do not like fan fiction. I honestly don't like the idea of publishing your own story of a world and characters that someone else created. Some fan fiction pieces are weird (in my opinion) and they kind of destroy what I love about the original series. With that being said I do think it is a creative outlet for some people. But to me, fan fiction is not my thing.
The story itself I loved. I even got past the weirdness of the fan fiction. Rowell, once again, made relatable characters. I could even see a little bit of me in Cath. College was hard for me at first, and trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone is rough. I kind of like to live in my own bubble, and I have definitely buried myself in the comfort of fictional worlds to ignore whats actually happening (I've been doing that a lot lately even). It really made me remember my first year of college, and it was kind of fun to think back on all of that. It seemed so scary then, but it seems silly looking back on it. Cath seemed real to me, and all of her situations seemed real to me. Her roommate, her sister, and other characters in the book really came to life in front of me. I think Rowell really does this well. They aren't anything fancy, but seem like actual human beings. Another bonus, the language was much cleaner than Eleanor & Park. I realize this particular book may not be for everyone, but it really blew me away. Another YA book to keep in mind!
"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.
What would he say . . . ?
I LOVED THIS BOOK. I think out of all of her books I read this is my favorite. I just read it last week and CANNOT get it out of my head. This was her first book published, and I am so mad that I did not know about it when it came out (though it doesn't surprise me that I didn't know. I think I was in college and a little busy). It's a book that seems kind of strange. I mean a guy reads all the flagged emails and falls in love with someone through her constantly flagged emails? Seems strange. Let me set a little more background for you. This is set in 1999, right as Y2K fear is getting strong. The internet is new-ish, and this particular news office seems to have just gotten this all started. After realizing that having someone physically go through all your email seemed a little less weird. I was scared that this book would come off as a bit stalker-ish. But honestly, I think it is one of the sweetest adult (YES! We moved on to adult books by Rowell) romances I have read. It kind of shows that theres so much more to a person than appearance, and that in writing people are a lot more honest than they are in person, at least I know that's the case for me.
This book flowed so well, especially going from the form of emails to reading about Lincoln. I was a little nervous about it, but it made sense and it worked. The characters were awesome, and I kind of felt like I was getting to know Beth with Lincoln (though, I can't say I was falling in love with her. I was thinking she'd be an awesome person to know). Once again, the characters Rowell created seemed so natural and real and the world she created was one I could easily picture and see myself in. I felt the emotions of the characters with them (can you tell that I was in love with this book?). I loved Lincoln, and I kept cheering him on as he tried to overcome obstacles. It's another book about coming out of that tough place. It's about moving on with your life, even when it seems impossible. It's also so much about growing up. The main characters are just a little bit older than me, and I felt that I could relate to a lot of the things they had going on in their lives. I loved loved loved this one, and I am so sad that I just found out about it recently. I must say that even though I have loved all of her books, this has been my favorite. And if you are wanting to start reading some of her stuff...start with this one!
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
This is Rowell's most recent book (came out in July!). I honestly had no idea what I was getting into, and I think I'm still trying to process everything that I just read (though in a good way!). Basically Georgie and Neal are struggling as many people do at certain points in their marriage, but it seems to be a struggle that is never-ending. Christmas comes around and she finds out she can't go back to Omaha with Neal and the kids. He obviously gets mad and leaves without her. This kind of sets everything off. The only thing that threw me for a loop was the landline (which I wonder how many people still have a landline?). At first I wasn't even sure if I was reading those parts or if they were making sense with the plot (no worries, they do!). But this is definitely an adult novel, with adult problems. The struggles of being a grown up and trying to divide your time. Trying to decide if you want your career more or your family more. I can't say that I have been through many of the issues brought up in this book, but even if I hadn't they made sense to me and I could see the realness in it. This is definitely a book about facing your problems head on. It's about taking charge and doing what's right. It's also about using your past as a bit of a reference. I know that we can't change the past (and I wouldn't want to. Those things happened in the past and made me the person that I am) but we can look back and see how we handled things. If we come up to similar situations we can approach in the way that's best. The past can be a reference point, and I think that Rowell was showing us that in a way.
The characters were, once again, awesome. I seriously love how real Rowell makes her characters. They aren't these shiny fabulous people that lead mostly perfect lives. The characters she creates are real and the problems they go through are real. I like being able to relate to more than just what the character is going through at the moment, I like to be able to relate to who they are supposed to be. Rowell creates those kinds of characters for me. If I can't relate to them I can definitely place them into my world, into a world that is real. The problems are some I may have stumbled upon or have seen others deal with. The only thing that I can't place into my very real life is the magic phone to the past (which I'm still processing, but in a good way). And then there's the ending. AHHH the ending. I promise I won't give anything away, but the ending was perfect. Just absolutely perfect. It gave me the idea that this story can live on. That these people could be real and could easily still be living their lives right now. It gave me closure without making the world just completely disappear from my mind. It was lovely. It made me smile. It didn't make all the problems disappear, because we all know that it all won't disappear, but it made things right.
Sooo...it's safe to say I've been fangirling over Rainbow Rowell. Over the past year I have really fallen in love with her stories and everything she creates within them. When I read realistic fiction I like to be able to believe them. I don't want to see the cookie-cutter perfect people that suddenly run into ONE big problem that eventually gets solved and they live happily every after. I want real. I want to think that I could know people that have been there. I also want the ending that's real. I don't want to see them riding off into the sunset, as happy as can be. That's not real life. I want to see books end well, not matter what that ending may be. Her books end well. So...now that I've talked on and on about her fantastic books I think maybe anyone reading this should pick one up! They are fairly easy reads, they put a smile on your face, and they stick with you. Or just do it to humor me :)
Next up for me to read (well, besides catching up to Jake on Walking Dead comics...which won't take long):
I've heard really good things about this one and it's been on my list for awhile! Yay!
And here's a little music from a recent favorite to end it all: